“There are moments in time, and precise spots, such as this reef within Komodo National Park, that fill me with awe. To swim in a natural setting, where the fish and invertebrate communities reach their peak diversity, is at least part of why I am drawn to the ocean again and again.”—Ethan Daniels
Sometimes the most beautiful underwater sights can be just downright impossible to do justice through an image. Take for example reefscapes. They’re stunning to look at, but stunning images of them are few and far between. Until you take a look at the portfolio of Ethan Daniels.
Ethan’s images of reefscapes and seascapes do more than capture a subject, they transport you to whatever far-flung corner of the world he happens to be in at any given time. His images toe the line between photojournalism, fine art, and illustrations in a natural history textbook. Let’s just say that if my high school textbooks had these images in them, I would have actually done my homework.
“Whenever you can fit a smoking volcano into an underwater image, go for it. Between Komodo and Alor, you can take your pick of active volcanoes. To capture this shot, I spent a frantic hour attempting to locate a shallow bommie during the waning moments of a super low tide.”
“Hovering on the surface of the sea along with a 40-foot animal, of which science is still relatively ignorant, somehow makes all one’s troubles seem manageable. That such a magnificent animal evolved on the same planet as humans is just astounding. Imagery just doesn’t do the experience justice.”
“Sometimes it’s the simplicity of a distinctive shape that generates thoughts or feelings. The hydrodynamic contours of blue sharks are so seductive and photogenic that it can be difficult to take a bad image of them. (But don’t get me wrong, I take plenty of terrible images!)”
“Highlighting contemporary subjects and issues, such as fishermen and fishing, that affect and are affected by Earth’s oceans, is one of the ways in which photography can raise awareness. We, as divers and world travelers, should utilize imagery for the betterment of the world that we explore.”
“It’s not always colorful, aesthetic reefs that proffer the most appealing scenes. Sometimes, the areas few people want to go—intertidal zones, fields of monotypic seagrass, or shadowed mangroves—are where the stories of the underwater environment, told through still images, are best found.”
“Especially when shooting in shallow water, I will regularly utilize weather in particular compositions, contrasting the moody feel of a dark sky with the vibrancy of a healthy reef. This image, from the Solomon Islands, was shot late in the day after waiting for a dark squall to encompass a shallow reef.”
“The bizarre but beautiful ancestor to the species in Jellyfish Lake is Mastigias papua, which can be found pulsing in various parts of Palau’s lagoon and in some marine lakes. Jellyfish remind me of organisms that could have evolved in the seas of an exoplanet in some far off galaxy.”
“Light, shadows, color, texture, pattern, and a sprinkling of some inexpressible personal element, all comes together in every photograph. I suppose why we, as a species, produce so many images is that each one is ever so slightly unique.”
“Exploring hard to get to places sometimes pays off. I recently discovered a narrow, dark tunnel that wound its way underneath a limestone island and into a tiny marine lake in Palau’s Rock Islands. The lake offered a surreal scene of soft, mixing colors that were impossible to effectively capture.”
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